Showing posts with label screenwriting tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label screenwriting tips. Show all posts

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Screenwriting Inspiration: The Crossroads

When your Hollywood dream hits the crossroads, reflect back to the past to recapture your spark. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Lack of Effort To Build Dreams: Faking It And Never Making It

Some people are quick to share their dreams with perfect strangers. They are not afraid to reveal that they want to become a Hollywood actor, a director, a producer, a screenwriter, a singer, a YouTube star and an Instagram influencer. They can trick their audience into believing they are living the dream life. For some unknown reason, they enjoy getting high off of attention. They feed off of daily compliments to feel happy. They rely on daily engagement to boost their moods. Truth is, some creative artists rarely invest the right amount of effort to live their dreams.

Making excuses, constant complaining, excessive whining, self-doubting, overthinking, self-pitying, obsessing on insecurities, exposing vulnerabilities, lacking confidence, suffering with self-esteem, being self-destructive, self-sabotaging, fixating on problems and failing to confront unresolved issues get far more play time than investing time and energy into living dreams. Getting attention to feel valuable replaces hard work and discipline.

Accomplishing a realistic dream is highly possible... Unfortunately, some people are more excited about receiving attention than making a real difference in this world. They want to be told they are pretty and or handsome. They need people to validate their self worth. They desire success to love who they are in this life. So many dreams are lost to wasting time on social media, day-in, day-out.

Recurring failures somehow disrupt the small steps that grow dreams. Some people rarely take personal responsibility to admit fault after making mistakes: People automatically think their value, identity and worth are put into question. They need reassurance to know they matter.

Confidence is everything. If we focus on the competition, we will get jealous and envy others. Negative emotions can prevent people from living a positive life.

What if we just focus on what resources we need to pursue our dream? We may actually live our dream...

Actors and actresses should consider exercising their acting muscles. Taking acting classes, rehearsing scenes, making acting reels, acting in short films and volunteering for script table readings are positive actions to increase exposure. Having supreme confidence as a movie performer is pulling from the past to collaborate with the future. Do the work behind the scenes to build your acting career.

Directors can watch famous Hollywood directors reveal their tricks of the trade on Master Class. They can practice making storyboards, interpret screenplays and study past films. They can perform assembly actions to rearrange scenes and retell stories. Furthermore, they can work with actors to prepare for future directing jobs.  

Writers can read screenplays, write action-based stories, master dialogue, inject their stories with real life experiences, listen to podcasts, read blogs, write short scripts, work as an uncredited paid writer and collaborate with other writers to receive real feedback and perform script coverage. Writing every day is not enough to become a great writer. There are many steps to evolve as a writer. Conflict and resolution are critical components to write profound screenplays.

Learning the truth is extremely important. However, people are too weak minded to accept the truth. They get offended, feel judged, claim their boundaries are being crossed and even accuse others of controlling them. These people attack the people who care about them. They embrace people who give them fake attention.

As we see on social media, there are toxic people lurking around to shame others. They criticize people who do not fall align with their thoughts and beliefs. The same people return to leave fake compliments and praises. Meanwhile, the page owners are dealing with internal pain that is left untreated. Wasting time on social media is the single biggest factor that will stall dreams. If we want to impress people, we will become obsessed with posting content, making stories, producing likes and receiving comments.

Honing your draft relies on giving effort. Staying disciplined can keep us on the right track to grow our dreams. Doing things that we love to do will make us happy. Infusing our projects with what we know best will retain our focus. We can control our effort to build our dreams...

Happy Screenwriting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Screenwriting Techniques

Movie scripts are documents. They function as a blueprint to turn an idea into a film. Directors rely on scripts to shoot scenes that are eventually edited together and packaged into films. There are so many useful screenwriting techniques that writers can use to narrate their stories.

Some stories can benefit being told from beginning to end without any disruptions. Writers enter a conflict, show the fire starting and resolve the conflict with a simple message. But if you want to get creative, you can enhance your script to create page turners. 

Flashbacks give us backstory. The proper method of using a flashback is to build enough value into characters so that we understand the significance of their past. Writers can open with a partial scene of a narrative they want to tell. Throughout the story, they can revisit this scene to move this key moment further along. The character may reflect back to this moment in their dream, in the middle of a conversation, in a coma and/or while they are driving.

We see a glimpse of the protagonist hanging on a moment that motivates their choices. We enter their mind through these flashbacks. We watch moments that already happened to explain backstory.

Series of shots and montages can turn dull moments into spectacular events. Have fun being creative in your storytelling!!!   

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Suggestions Not Judging: Creating compelling characters

Screenwriting is a creative art that requires criticism to make progress. In order to become a professional screenwriter, we should accept constructive criticism as helpful feedback that can give us solid ideas.

Getting stuck in our comfortable ways to protect our ego can/will hold us back. There are vulnerable writers who view suggestions as judging their character.

Judging is unfairly criticizing someone without having all the facts present. A woman with tattoo sleeves is viewed as a stripper. "You are weak for allowing everyone to take advantage of you," is a negative statement. "You are terrible with your finances," is making a poor judgement of someone who does not earn as much at their current job. "Your finances will be the reason we will not get funding," is another inconsiderate judgemental statement if someone is not the sole reason for this potentially happening. 

What is not considered judging is telling someone that if they did not allow a certain person they complain about often to interfere in their life, they would not have to go back to a bad situation. We can tell them that if they gave more effort, they would have already accomplished their dream. The trigger word that sparked this person: Effort. They believe they have given a lot of effort. Truth is, they lost their passion to create. They allowed stress and pressure to rule their life. For this reason, they would constantly reach out for help. Unfortunately, they never applied valuable advice to better their life.  

Some people just need attention. They thrive off of sympathy. They need to be heard. They rely on another ear that will listen to their problems. They want us to blame other people. We're not supposed to solve other people's problems. Unresolved issues can block these people from taking actions. 

Whatever unresolved issues these people are dealing with come to the surface. They immediately get offended, switching the spotlight back to you—deflecting. They will attack your lack of effort. They will tell you to give up on your dream. Instead of appreciating your advice, they will consider your advice as judging. 

Unresolved issues can spark low confidence, insecurities, shame, lack of success, low self-worth, depression, unhappiness, vulnerabilities, self-consciousness and inferiority. It is a multi-headed monster that can unleash fury on us without notice. 

We must think of positive words to not offend them. We must compliment them to stroke their fragile ego. We must give them false praise to boost their moods. 

Just think about the value of life experiences. Our interactions with people who struggle with a wide range of challenges are useful to expand our screenwriting. No moment in life can ever go wasted. We can use everything in our past to create compelling characters. 

People fear getting judged because they secretly know they are doing these negative things. If they already shared their indiscretions before, it is not judging to bring these topics up again during their "complaining and whining' storms. Being honest to help pinpoint the source of problems can empower people. Overly sensitive people who feel guilty inside feel judged.    

Confident people don't worry about judgmental people. They don't focus on what people think and say. They concentrate on urgent priorities that can/will improve their current situation. Schedules and deadlines replace overthinking to maximize time. 

Good screenwriting is recycling real life events to build characters. We meet certain people for a reason;  there are no accidents. Taking notes to save the past can work magic in our future scripts. 

Many people feel judged. Many people never seek counseling. Many people get triggered over internal pain. We can't control what happens outside of our lives. People have a right to act any way they want. It is not up to us how they live their lives. If they waste our time and energy returning back with the same problems they refuse to confront, re-evaluate your relationship with them. 

When people accuse you of judging them, they hold your opinion on a pedestal. If you mention being disappointed, they will take this to heart. Be careful what you say to vulnerable people. Recycle all past experiences to infuse your script with valuable content to teach people. 

What are we about? What is our message? How can we save people from making costly mistakes? Make your screenwriting a learning experience to spread true wisdom. 

Happy Screenwriting! 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Humility is A Dying Breed: Social Media Is Ruining Screenwriting

Only a Film Degree--We must work to be screenwriters
We all know humble. We all know braggers. We all know action. We all know inaction...

Social media has casted a negative light on the writing world. On social media platforms, more people talk about the act of writing instead of waking every day to be proactive go-getters. In hindsight, writers once got work done; they completed scripts to option. Unfortunately, social media has turned screenwriting into a dream that is viewed as unreachable.

Screenwriting is an art form. It is also a discipline that requires time, energy and effort. Truth is, finished scripts are appealing to producers. There is little demand for unfinished scripts because they can't be produced. What separates professional screenwriters from aspiring screenwriters: Discipline.

Think about these comparisons: I am working on my degree versus I earned my degree. Any person can be working on a degree; however, only a select few will actually satisfy all the requirements to complete their degree programs.

Screenwriting is made out to be difficult. The real truth is that anything in life can be difficult if we fear the next step. We can make waking up on time to reach work a major challenge. We can make exercising daily an insurmountable task. We can postpone talking to someone we like over the lack of confidence. Placing constraints on our screenwriting will create fear. A large number of people worry about criticism. They automatically assume that receiving criticism is a precursor to failure. Their dream is better shared in forums, on discussion boards, on social media and in real life conversations.

Braggers need to draw attention to themselves. They need this attention to feel worth. The problem with sharing our dreams without doing the work is that we can block access to production. We spend way too much time trying to impress people with our creative ideas. We may post images about what we are supposedly doing, even if we are not actually working hard perfecting our craft. We will ask other writers/people what they think about our ideas so they can praise us. Condescending, bitter and petty attitudes can rule our emotions. We need to prove people wrong all the time. We fake being successful to create that adrenaline rush, that pure excitement of what it's like to accomplish a dream. Nevertheless, we can get carried away with all the attention that our dreams bring us.

Humble writers make movie magic happen. They wake up motivated and inspired to write. They write at their most vulnerable moments. They revise their previous projects. They don't crave attention. They already know their value as human beings choosing to be writers. There is no internal motivation to trick people, unless these themes are injected into characters.

Know the difference between being humble and bragging. If you are working hard, you earned the right to talk about your success. On the flip side, talking about the dream and not taking action to make it happen will delay the inevitable. Don't waste time. Your screenwriting dream will only come true if you do.

Happy screenwriting!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Write Descriptive Visuals

What do you see? What will the viewer see? Write descriptive visuals that covey actions without dialogue.

Practice writing less to show more. Cinema is meant to explore visual storytelling. Get into the habit to set the mood in every new setting.

If you follow this approach, your screenwriting will lift off the pages.

Happy screenwriting! 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Write What You Already Know

It is no secret that writing about what you know will increase your excitement to create. Many people assume they have a story to tell, so they try to become that person who will convince writers their lives can make a fortune. When writers ask them to help with the writing process, they say they don't have time. What these people really want is to ride the wave of success without doing any work. Write what you know, not what others want you to do.

We don't have any time to waste. 

Reflect back to all the moments you could have completed screenplays. I'm sure there are many lost opportunities. The past is a common psychological tool that prevents us from living life with peace and happiness. Talking about screenwriting as if we are already working writers in Hollywood will make us appear as faking it until we make it. Don't be one of these people in real life. Writing about someone who is fake in public to protect their true identity in their private life is a good story. Sharing your personal experiences with these fake people, which I have had many in my past, will bring life to your screenwriting to create a compelling screenplay.

Just imagine every situation your dream has created in your life.

Write about the life you lived over the dream you want. Without your dream, you would be living a different life. Maybe this normal life will give you a less stressful lifestyle. However, you would never know what it's like to accomplish a dream. The trap of viewing success as easy instead of understanding the hardship it takes is something to consider in your future scripts.

What events happened along the way? Did you laugh? Get sad? Get angry? Did you lose love? There are so many events in your life that can make good storytelling. We don't have to write these events as is. We all know that true life stories are modified for creative impact.

Get creative with your life stories.

We don't have to write our screenplays as real life experiences. We should use our life as inspiration to create fictional character who maneuver through our life. Teach people important lessons that you learned about your life.

Instead of looking at negative outcomes, focus on what you learned to grow into a better human being.

Tell people about your life. What are you about? Who are you as a screenwriter? What type of stories do you like to tell? What is your message to the world? Write these stories. Share your creative energy. If you learn something new about yourself after writing a script, you did your job perfectly right. Make screenwriting a transformation process. Writing what you already know will light a flame that can help your creativity burn brighter.

Please share your screenwriting experiences in the comment section below. 

Happy screenwriting!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Writing is The Best Practice to Get Better: Overcome Writer's Block

Struggling to work on your screenplay(s)? Lack of motivation to write? There are many screenwriters who experience writer's block. Procrastination is a common problem in the writing world. Don't panic just yet. Don't fear the next word. Everything will work out nicely. Stay true to yourself to trust the writing process.

Why do we experience uncomfortable challenges to do screenwriting? Simple answer: Too many distractions. If we want to delve deeper into writer's block, we can point to confidence, fear and psychological setbacks. We are human beings. We must work to survive this life. We have a past. 

Never allow your mind to control your actions. If you do this, you will reflect back to the past to block yourself. You will self-doubt. You will not believe in yourself. You will find reasons to be unhappy. You will forget about the people who matter most. You will repeat bad habits. Our mind can be our worst enemy--it can stop us from achieving what we believe is possible. 

Writing is the best practice to get better. I didn't learn to write in college. During these educational moments, I did write a lot. However, daily responsibilities would distract me. I continued to push through these barriers, writing more and more to share my passion. I didn't learn to write better without choosing to write daily. Good or bad material, I wrote all of this to remain active. Truth is, we can become our worst critic. Don't judge your screenwriting during the writing process, just flush out all your creative ideas like a fast moving stream.    

My professional writing jobs prepared me to live my future screenwriting career. As a clinical content writer, I took some important lessons my program manager shared with me. He taught me an important lesson about deadlines. I never learned my lesson until I lost this great writing job over procrastination. The program manager made an example out of me. His solution after my big failure: I should be honest to review the project by spending a day on this process to determine how much time is required to complete it. Our word has a lot of weight. If we lack integrity, we will not gain and/or maintain trust. 

While writing academic content, I noticed the value of deadlines. To be truthfully honest, I made my fair share of deadline mistakes. As a result of these challenging moments, I experienced many financial setbacks. I lived a difficult life. For the most part, I needed these failures to help me become self-aware. I now take personal responsibility for my past actions. Nobody is to blame for me postponing my screenwriting goals. I am responsible. I know what I need to do to succeed.   

Admitting that we have problems can save us time. Blaming everyone for our dreams not coming true will delay us. Living with our problems will not advance our dreams. Being brave to confront our problems to resolve them show we want more in this life. Writer's block is like a friend zone. We have to be honest with what we want at the beginning. Our mind can block our passion. Our mind can reject the love we want to experience over unresolved issues. We must realize that we deserve success. 

Writing daily is the key to unlock your screenwriting dream. It is that simple. Breathe screenwriting daily: It is your oxygen to remain alive in a competitive space. Fear blocks most dreams. 

Don't fear the competition. Don't fear success. Don't fear criticism. Don't fear losing your privacy. Don't fear failure. Don't fear writing a bad script. Don't fear that you can actually become someone influential. All of this fear is unwanted pressure and stress; it does not belong in our daily life. We can only control our own actions. Everything above us is out of our hands. 

Lose the need for perfection. Nothing is perfect; everything is flawed. Understand that we can get better at screenwriting by giving extra effort. People who fight back after criticism lack confidence in their dream. Take serious actions to set a schedule. Set goals. Accomplish them. Stephen King writes 6 pages a day. He is consistent to deliver. He does not make his fans wait for his next great story. 

Writing is best done every day. Writer's block happens over distractions that block our mind. There are kinks, tangles and total blocks that restrict creative impulses from flowing in our brain. Unblock everything that is bothering you to realize your greatest potential as a screenwriter. 

Don't think about the next word. Keep writing no matter what, even if it feels totally uncomfortable. If we follow this writing system, we will find the words that we need to write a compelling screenplay. Let writer's block go. 

Happy screenwriting! 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Look at smaller writing markets in movies to get foot into door

Many viewers enjoy laughing at sci-fi movies shown on SyFy. No disrespect to the SYFY channel, but these types of movies are really silly and quite lame. On the contrary, SYFY is actually a rich market for writers to get their feet wet. Screenwriters who are willing to step outside their comfortable box can launch their film careers by writing low budget spec scripts. Furthermore, paid writing jobs translate into writing experience that will pad IMDb credits.

Look into smaller writing markets to blossom your writing career. You gotta start somewhere. Why not consider low budget science fiction movies? Never think you are too good to take this route. Traveling down the SYFY path is a unique option that can reward writers with lucrative opportunities.

Master a genre to become known as that sci-fi writer. Better yet, flex your creative muscles writing short films and small movies to show big film studios what you are capable of doing with your writing abilities. Don't focus on selling a million dollar screenplay to attract attention to your self-worth.

Do your best to hone your craft. If you give all your effort, the sky's the limit. Think smaller to grow bigger.

And remember, write the raw pages to flush out your creativity.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Tame The Ego and Don’t be prideful: Screenwriting Advice

Screenwing takes talent, passion, hard work, connections and luck. If aspiring screenwriters believe they don’t need to do the work, they will eventually fail. Never allow your ego and pride to get in the way. Relaxing after doing great work is a sign that we are getting too comfortable.

An effective way to tame your ego: Set deadlines. Compare screenwriting to your day job! Employees who sit around thinking they are the best will be put on the chopping block. Productivity involves taking the steps to remain efficient.

Putting our pride to the side can humble us. Refusing to do what it takes to get ahead is a sign of low passion. Essentially, these screenwriters become opportunists who seek fame, fortune and attention. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be famous. Earn your Hollywood stripes. Be self-inspired and self-motivated to write at all times. Don’t wait to get into the zone.

Stay confident, persistent and patient. Screenwriting is a career that can offer future screenwriters unlimited opportunities. Always be willing to learn. Read books. Read scripts. Listen to podcasts. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Structure, structure, structure.

What you want is much closer than you think. Reducing time talking about your dream will give you a better chance to succeed as a Hollywood screenwriter. If you desire writing awards, then do the work. Remember that scripts must be written.

Lose your ego. Get rid of fears. Stay consistent. No excuses. No self-doubts. Be confident in your abilities. Waiting is being passive. Remain proactive in your pursuit to write compelling movies!

And remember, write the raw pages to flush out your creativity... Happy writing! 

Less is More: Screenwriting Tips

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Writing less to express more is always the better option. Screenwriting is a visual art that relies on pictures to tell a story. Some aspiring screenwriters lose focus on the importance of writing strong action. Instead, they would rather flex their screenwriting muscle creating witty dialogue. Rule of thumb: Less is more--focus on a good balance of action and dialogue.  

Writing too much dialogue steals the visual thunder...

Unless we plan to become Quentin Tarantino in the flesh, over-writing dialogue is a trap. Don't get caught up in writing more dialogue to explain what you can do in less words. Nothing is more bothersome in screenwriting than writing scripts driven by just pure dialogue. Be known for your own writing voice. Don't follow James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino because they do something. Be clever creating strong dialogue that stays on track with the main character and plot.

What producers and script readers do not want to see is camera direction. If you write a shooting script, you will not get the praise you expect. It's a big "no-no" to include camera directions. Just tell the story.

Writing strong visuals in the shortest amount of lines is impressive. It is a skill that takes a lot of practice and discipline. If you're already an established screenwriter, you already realize the value of this craft. On the flip side, there are many Hollywood scripts that feature very detailed and descriptive action.

The entire first page can be filled with action, without even a single word of dialogue to introduce characters and the plot. If you can write a strong first page with detailed actions, take this approach to see where your story goes. Master visual writing to build the foundation for your First Act.

A good exercise is to write a short 5-page film with only visuals. No dialogue. Tell this story as you see it, as you imagine it shaping in your mind. Structure this 5-page short film. Hit all the plot points. As a third party, what do you see. If you wanna get creative, build a story with mind-flash, flashbacks and flash forwards.

Go further into the world you want to create.

Things to consider: 
  • Be creative. 
  • Have discipline. 
  • Do the work. 
  • Don't expect anything.
  • Attract attention with your screenwriting. 
  • Develop a writing voice that sets you apart from the rest.
  • Everyone has an idea for a good script.
  • There are far less people willing to carve out a passionate script.
As my mentor reminds me: Talk is cheap.

Please share your experience with the visual writing exercise.

And remember, writing the raw pages matter to flush out your creativity. Let's live this screenwriting dream together! Happy writing!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

On Flashbacks

"Do not take us to the past until we care about what's happening in the future" - David Trottier's The Screenwriter's Bible

Flashbacks are prone to overexposure. Instead of dragging out secrets, some screenwriters rely on flashbacks to serve up truths without holding back any material. Screenwriters may use flashbacks early, maybe too early, to explain missing pieces of their story. However, we know little about these characters to invest our emotions into their journey. Exposition is key, but give the audience time to find an emotional connection. 

The fear of using the flashback approach is that we can lose the audience early on. As excitement builds in knowing everything, showing too much of everything and exposing everything in flashbacks, this technique of serving appetizers, drinks, dinner and dessert all at once may disconnect us from the main storyline. We need time to digest information, so going back and forth between flashbacks without at least building character development will cheat your story. 

As moviegoers, we are invested in the storyline. How do the protagonist and antagonist make us care? Of course, we final an emotional connection with the antagonist. Unless it is unsettling evil actions that disconnect us from the antagonist, then we want to know why they behave in this way.

Showing flashbacks can work, but executing them right can make a difference between writing a good script or over saturating this technique in a bad script. In the opening scene, we introduce the audience to conflict, such as an introduction to a research paper, and then put obstacles in front of the ultimate goal to block the protagonist. We want the protagonist to earn their stripes.

Going back to the past can reveal character strengths and/or weaknesses. Is this character up for the challenge? Do they possess the courage to confront the antagonist? Chase the dream? Defeat the empire? Get the girl? Win the game? Pass the test? Use a flashback sequence where this technique is appropriate to inform the audience. It can represent an effective device to move your story forward. 

Flashbacks are employed in horror movies to fill-in gaps. The first Saw movie executes this technique in the midpoint, as well as toward the film ending. We watch John (Jigsaw) struggle with cancer. If we understand the impact of cancer, we emphasize with his character. We also discover his hardship, his unwillingness to accept the selfishness of people refusing to appreciate their lives.

The screenwriter, Leigh Whannell, revealed this important information to prepare us. These flashbacks convey what decisions are necessary to survive life. It is in these experiences that we are drawn to the game of life, where the protagonists must make critical decisions to save or end a life, including their own. 

Given this plot technique, flashbacks are also executed to twist the plot--plot twists. A tightly concealed twist relies on revealing enough information to make all scenes go against the perceived storyline. What we assumed was happening is a whole different story. Dead Silence builds on this plot device, shifting the ending into flashback overdrive. We assume Mary Shaw is thus defeated; however, Leigh tricks us with another twist ending. Watch this horror movie to see how flashbacks explain the twist ending.

Want to use flashbacks in your screenplay? Go ahead and flash your flashbacks, but do this after you build character development. Why should we care about the protagonist? Humanize characters before diving into the flashback pool. Don't abuse flashbacks because your audience will lose connection with the present time. Once the conflict is revealed and protagonist is introduced, make those flashbacks count.

Happy Screenwriting!


Spec Script Versus Shooting Script

Speculative scripts, also known as Spec Scripts, are written for commercial reasons. The main intent of a screenwriter creating this type of script is to sell to film production houses and/or to land a coveted television writing job. Shooting scripts are used to guide directors; they are prepared by production staff as a tool to shoot films. 

Write Spec Scripts as your calling card to possibly connect with film executives, to apply for writing fellowships (Disney/ABC) and/or to chase after a chance to write on television. It really takes some major effort on your part to employ your Spec Script and create interest. 

Aspiring screenwriters can lose sight of the Spec Script, using and/or overusing directions to impress film studios. It is not up to the screenwriter to include these directions in screenplays, unless the script writer is the director and they understand the focus of this script. Do yourself justice; leave out these directions and focus on telling your story. 

However, writing a compelling story is the best mode of operation to craft a great script. Tell your story using the right script format. Don't focus all your energy on making the script format perfect. Do realize your script must be formatted and packed together following industry standards.

A Spec Script is written to sell and/or to get a job. A shooting script is prepared once it is optioned and ready to begin production. All directions, numbers, and scene selection in shooting scripts are guides so the director, assistants, script supervisor and other production members can stay organized.

According to David Trottier in his The Screenwriter's Bible, "The main reason you write a spec script is to tell an interesting story" (p. 104). Essentially, write to tell instead of writing to impress.

Good luck writing the next awesome film!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Screenwriting dreams locked away by life

Believe it or not, your unaccomplished screenwriting dreams are locked away in a vault, in an undisclosed location waiting to break free. What do you do to find this vault, and then unlock it? It is no simple task to become a screenwriter. But, however, passionate writers are up for this competition. They know what needs to be done in order to deliver their screenwriting dreams to Hollywood. With that idea in play, we can focus on our screenwriting dreams that are locked away by life.

Ever wonder why so many aspiring screenwriters fail to option screenplays that are made into movies shown on the silver screen. It is hard to option a screenplay. The right ingredients must be mixed together to whip up a decent movie. When we say decent, we mean that not all movies are good. Bad movies get optioned, get made, and get produced into real movies. 

Any movie that enters the box office is a success. It doesn't matter if these movies are good or bad. Thousands of screenplays reach Hollywood each year, but only a small fraction of those are optioned. Statistically, a smaller fraction of those are actually made into movies. How do we write what we know and make this interesting to option? 

Look at all the things you've done in life. Jobs you've taken. People you know. Stupid obstacles that make you laugh. Stories told to you. What you see on the street. Listen to at work. What is reported in the news. These premise ideas are there for you to seize, to capture, to make into movies. No more waiting for the perfect screenplay, to make this script right.

Lets look at the startup industry. Why do tech companies continue to search for software engineers? You'd think these startups are represented by top talents in their field. Well, they are stocked up. It never hurts to advertise and find another talented individual to join the team. 

Screenwriting works this way. Hollywood knows there are hundreds of unsolicited scripts stored in computers. These movies can easily make Hollywood millions of dollars in the box office. The problem here is locating these commercial screenplays that have the right ingredients. Diamonds in the rough are hard to come by, so for reason alone the major players are searching long and hard. 

We know your life can be interesting, though not the simple moments where you share a beer and talking about sports. We're talking about those stupid moments where you look up to the sky and yell. These are funny events, funny obstacles that make us life.

We live those real moments. We dislike the odds that are stacked up against us. We complain about our lives. When we watch these scenes at the movies, we can relate to them. We identify with these characters. We empathize with tear-jerking moments. Humanizing characters and telling a creative story are tricks to complete a quality screenplay.

It really sucks that these dumb obstacles put in every road are what hold us back from reaching Hollywood. This material sells. People enjoy watching these events play out on the silver screen. Add an unexpected twist at the end and now you have a dynamic piece of work. Start from the ending and move the story between this beginning to that big end. Interconnect these events with an ensemble cast that have a deep connection and this shows Hollywood you are a great screenwriter. 

You see, you can do it, too. Instead of investing all your time into writing that perfect screenplay, you can search for that screenwriting safe and unlock those ideas, events, experiences, jobs, family reunion disasters, and everything else known as life. Life may hold you back, but it will give you an edge. The scariest of moments, the funnest experiences, and the tough hardships you face, are what makes screenwriting worthwhile. If these scripts are written right, using the best techniques, these screenplays will sell. Screenwriters must write often, write religiously, and write with a mission to option their scripts.  

Think about these scenarios. A coder writes decent codes to make a mediocre website that lacks a theme. However, highly skilled coders write brilliant codes to create a dynamic app like Instagram. A team of coders write basic codes to keep a simple social networking website like Facebook operable. It is because Facebook gives people that 15 minutes of fame every day, that is what keeps this social networking company running. Facebook is the heart, whereas all its companies are outlets to expand their service base. Scroll down the board to see all those people happily sharing their lives.  

People want to tell their life stories. They want attention. They believe their life makes a good book. If this story is told wrong, then it lacks interest. The screenwriters who understand basic script formatting, basic storytelling, and know which events to include, will sell their screenplays in Hollywood. Don't listen to negative people. Locate that safe filled with unique, original ideas, and unlock these scenes, these moments called life. If you can do this, you will win in Hollywood. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

David Goyer on not writing enough detail in his scripts

David Goyer, writer of Batman Begins, The Unborn, Man of Steel, and Dark City, to name a few of his writing works, shared how he reinvented himself to write an eerie horror script, The Unborn. In this article featured in Volume 16 Number 1 of Creative Screenwriting,  Goyer speaks of not writing enough detail in his scripts that ticked off a director.

According to David Goyer, he wrote an unnamed script that Guillermo Del Toro directed. In Goyer's ambiguous description, he wrote along the lines of, 'He looks like a living nightmare.' This provoked Guillermo to respond with, "This is bullshit. What does this mean?" (pg. 73).

Nevertheless, David Goyer learned from writing minimal description in his screenplays. He realized this lack of description could frustrate some directors, even when he, himself, was tasked to direct his own script, The Unborn. In the middle of his directing duties, David would question the motive of the writer and ask what is wrong with this screenwriter.

Interestingly, David remembered he wrote the screenplay and experienced a dose of vague descriptions that may have confused past directors. David shared that he would work on improving his descriptions and this action could provide a better foundation to keep directors in the loop.

Remember, movie scripts are intended to convey detailed action. Vague descriptions and/or questionable similes and metaphors can confuse directors. Explain action in detail to avoid run-ins with directors.

Every page is money in the Bank

I connected with another screenwriter, who is on the verge of optioning his series to a cable network. Because this writer was under an NDA, he couldn't share the name of the project and this cable network involved in the potential deal. That's cool, I understand that he must abide by the legal terms set aside in this contract. This cool writer shared a really awesome moddo to follow.

Several times during this conservation, this writer reiterated that we all must keep finishing pages because every page is money in the bank. I really like this phrase. The mindset of this writer explores how he attaches value to his writing, especially since many writers focus too much on developing multiple ideas rather than complete movie scripts in their entirety. 

It is all about finishing writing projects, instead of devoting endless days and nights discussing screenwriting and television writing on forums and never working toward a finished script. One completed spec script holds more value than several working scripts stuck in the First Act. 

It is true. Every completed page is money in the bank. Whereas ideas are a dime a dozen, completed screenplays have a shot at potentially selling if the execution of this writing and the storyline capture the essence of their intended purpose - whether the concept is highly commercial and/or this original spec script is salable under a popular genre. This screenplay may represent an artistic montage of the screenwriter's brainchild, their creative expression that is ready to divulge top secret ideas into an all-out silver screen mission to capture moviegoers.  

Write script pages to build value into an overall movie project. Writing outweighs talking. Talkers are not walkers. Writers are movers. They move every scene forward, closer to a completion. 

Indeed, every completed page is money in the bank. When the final page of this script is completed, now the writer has something to discuss with the right people. They can revise this script, as well. 

Keep writing. Focus on the main goal. Finish the script. Then, option this script to put money in the bank. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Submitting a screenplay to studios: How to Prepare a Screenplay for Submission?

Preparing a screenplay for submission is an important process. You must be ready to deliver the finished product (screenplay) within the film industry guidelines.

Sample Binded Screenplay

Read the following article below to find out how to prepare a screenplay for submission. I originally prepared this article on my writing blog. However, the blog covers too many writing techniques and niches. The following content is taken direcrectly from my Magic Writer blog. I put it in quotes so there is no confusion with duplicating posts.

"Packaging a script for submission requires an understanding of the industry standards. Many writers assume that because they write a powerful story, readers and producers will forgive them for improperly structuring and binding a script together. Don’t be one of those writers that think their writing is good enough, making it acceptable to ignore the formatting and binding standards. Making a script ready for submission – the first time around – can make a difference between optioning a screenplay or being constantly rejected for failing to follow the industry standards. What are the industry standards for submitting a screenplay?

Save yourself the stress; purchase Final Draft screenwriting software. There are other companies that produce knockoff screenwriting software, claiming that they have the best software available. None of these companies don’t compare to Final Draft. Would you rather drive a Saturn or a BMW? Writers that try to format screenplays on Microsoft Word and other text writing programs will waste too much time trying to set tabs, count spaces, and all the other processes that are involved with formatting a screenplay. Let Final Draft do all the formatting for you and focus your concentration on writing a salable and award winning screenplay.

If for some reason that you are financially strapped and can’t afford Final Draft, then purchase David Trottier’s Screenwriting Bible at Barnes & Nobles. The book has everything you need to know about the right screenplay formatting specifications. Trottier’s advice for formatting a script is as follows: The font and character should be 12 Courier. The left margin is to be 1.5 inches from the left side, the dialogue is 2.5 inches from the left side, parenthetical for character direction center underneath the name and about 3.1 inches from the left, and lastly, the character name should be 3.7 inches away from the left side.

When I first started writing screenplays more than a decade ago, I spent too much time formatting screenplays using MS Word, constructing the story was essentially a secondary effort. Try downloading a trial version of Final Draft. Though the company places water marking in the background, you will be able to gain practical experience with the screenwriting software. Also, consider downloading sample studio screenplays at either or Google the keyword “feature screenplays.” Many college libraries and some county libraries have copies of screenplays in their inventory. Reading professional work will help you understand what is expected of a writer, in terms of carving out a strong screenplay and in formatting it.

After you finish writing and formatting a great screenplay, now it is time to bind the script together. What are the industry standards for binding a screenplay? Go to an office supply store and purchase a package of 60lb card stock, preferably black or ivory color. You will need two sheets for your screenplay, one as a front cover and the other as a back cover. Print out your script on white paper. Your screenplay needs to be 3-hole punched, including the front and back cover. Sandwich the screenplay together using ACCO #5- 1 ¼” brass fasteners, filling in the 1st and 3rd holes and leaving middle one empty. Screenplays that are 70 pages or less will use shorter length brads – 1” or less.

In Hollywood, the brass fasteners are known as “standard brads”. Brass fasteners are sometimes hard to find because many of the supply stores only sell the small round heads or paper fasteners. Last month, I spent an entire day trying to look for brass fasteners in 13 different stores. While a college film undergraduate, I purchased the standard brads from UCSB’s college bookstore. They no longer sell the brass fasteners there anymore, maybe because there is no demand for them.

The best place to find standard brads, writing supplies, software, and equipment is at the The website will ship to any domestic or international location. If you have the luxury of living or visiting Southern California, go into the physical store location, which is located at 2040 Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025. The phone number is 1-866-229-7483. ACCO #5 brads cost $7.99 for 100.

Make sure that you register your screenplay with the WGA. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. If you share your idea with other people and send outs screenplays without properly registering it, then there is a strong chance that someone may steal your idea. Failing to register the screenplay will void out any legal protection. Essentially, you will not be able to prove that the idea was yours. Also, make sure to mail a copy of the script to your home; keep the envelope sealed.

After all the steps are taken, be sure to secure a screenwriting agent. Studios don’t like to accept screenplays from a private party because they tend to fear lawsuits for plagiarism and idea theft. They prefer deal with agents and literary agencies. Find a screenwriting book that has a list of agents that are willing to take on new talent. Compile your writing portfolio, highlighting your best written work. Lastly, write with confidence, follow the right format guidelines, and submit your screenplays to the right people."

Original article at the following location:

Screenwriting Dream: Screenwriting dream that continues on

We can't predict our future... Keeping our dream alive may involve making mistakes to stay on track. Unfortunately, our recurring failures may cause us to fall further further back. If we focus on the bigger picture, we may give the right amount of energy and effort to live a better life.

It's highly unlikely that we will follow a precise dream plan. If our dream is to become a screenwriter, just know that chasing after this big goal can create conflict and introduce recurring hardships.

Nearly 16 years ago, I set out to become a Hollywood actor. My planned goal turned out to become an utter failure. When I decided to attend one acting program, I ended up going to film school. Instead of going after an acting career, I decided to change my focus to screenwriting.

I served in the U.S. Air Force a few months after deciding to accept the Hollywood dream. Since then, I moved down to Southern California about five years ago to finish my college studies. I earned four college degrees, including a Master's Degree, Bachelor's Degree, and two Associates Degrees.

In the past few years, I worked extremely hard to improve my writing skills. My writing skills were once geared toward writing screenplays and creative writing pieces. In present time, I can write on virtually any subject matter. When you chase after a dream, you will find many people attempting to derail your success. You commonly hear people saying "you're dreaming in the clouds" reference. We would never hold a dream unless we could realistically accomplish the goal.

Don't always believe in the criticism you hear from others. Whereas it is wise to listen, you have to make your own personal choices. Why do people try to disrupt your dreams? Some people who fail at accomplishing their dreams may attempt to sabotage your dreams. Unfinished dreams may turn into negative emotions such as bitterness, resentment and pettiness...

The next time you feel like giving up on your screenwriting dream, think about how far you've come to make it to this point in time. The screenwriting dream is worth the challenge, especially since the journey to better yourself is worth your sacrifice. Reflect back to the exact moment in which imagined your screenwriting dream--use this moment to find daily motivation. Stay persistent to continue on the screenwriting journey because you never know when your chance to write the next great movie will arrive.

Keep putting in the work until you find that golden opportunity to seize the moment in Hollywood. Believe that you can accomplish your screenwriting dream. Good luck!